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CONSERVATION CORNER
(For the week of August 17, 2009)
Recycle Fishing Line
by James L. Cummins

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) wants to remind fishermen along the Coast to drop their used fishing line in the designated recycling tubes located at piers and boat launches throughout the three coastal counties which are Jackson, Hancock and Harrison. There are 45 posted locations along the coast. Only monofilament fishing line should be placed in the tubes. Bait, hooks, nets and all other trash should be placed in a proper garbage receptacle.

DMR, along with partners National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coastal Conservation Association and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, launched the state's first large-scale monofilament, or fishing line, recycling program.

"The first year of the program was very successful, with more than 100 pounds of fishing line collected," says Wesley Devers, DMR marine fisheries scientist.

Fishing line is without fail in the top 10 of debris found during the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup, which is held each year on the third Saturday in October. Monofilament is non-biodegradable and can last about 600 years in the marine environment.

"Monofilament poses an entanglement hazard for all marine life," says Devers. "Plus it causes extensive damage to boat motors and water intakes on marine vessels and facilities."

The used fishing line is collected by DMR and partnering organizations and then shipped to Pure Fishing America, the parent company of Berkley fishing line. The line is ground into tiny pieces, melted down and then remolded into various products, such as spools for fishing line, tackle boxes and freshwater fish habitats. The recycled monofilament is not used to make new fishing line.

Monofilament is a high-density plastic and requires a special recycling process. The fishing line must be placed into the specially designated receptacles. Even fishing line thrown in the garbage can find its way into and along the environment or marine waters, either by blowing out of the garbage can or landfill, or by being taken out by birds or animals.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is dedicated to enhancing, protecting and conserving marine interests of the state by managing all marine life, public trust wetlands, adjacent uplands and waterfront areas to provide for the optimal commercial, recreational, educational and economic uses of these resources consistent with environmental concerns and social changes. For more information, visit the DMR online at www.dmr.ms.gov.


James L. Cummins is executive director of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore and enhance fish, wildlife and plant resources throughout Mississippi.